Daniel William Marsh confessed to the brutal murders of an elderly Davis couple, saying he’d had the urge to kill since he was about 10 years old, a Davis police detective said during chilling testimony Friday at Marsh’s preliminary hearing.
“Every person he would look at, he would have horrible thoughts of how he would kill them,” Detective Ariel Pineda said. The 16-year-old also described having fantasies of a schoolyard massacre, “how many he was going to take out before he was taken out.”
The hourlong hearing in Yolo Superior Court ended with Marsh being ordered to stand trial for the April 13 stabbing deaths of Oliver Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, whose mutilated bodies police found in the bedroom of their Cowell Boulevard condominium.
Both victims had suffered dozens of stab wounds — 67 for Maupin and 61 for Northup — and were eviscerated, Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya testified before a courtroom filled to capacity with relatives and friends of both Marsh and the slain couple, some of whom gasped as Moya described the horrific injuries.
Marsh also admitted to putting a cell phone into Maupin’s open wounds and a drinking glass into Northup’s, Pineda said under questioning by prosecutor Michael Cabral.
“He stated he wanted to mess with the people who were going to investigate this by putting objects into their bodies,” the detective said.
A shackled Marsh, wearing a juvenile hall uniform of tan pants and a rust-colored T-shirt, his previously long hair now cropped short, looked down at the table in front of him during much of the grisly testimony.
The double homicides stunned the Davis community, where Northup was a longtime attorney and musician for the Putah Creek Crawdads and Maupin was active in her church and local theater. The city reeled again after the arrest of Marsh, who just four years ago was hailed a hero for saving his father’s life during a heart attack.
The victims were found on the night of April 14 after concerned family members who hadn’t heard from the couple requested a welfare check at the South Davis condo. Officer Mark Hermann, who was on patrol that night, said he discovered a cut window screen at the rear of the house before spotting the couple’s bodies through their bedroom window.
Pineda, the detective, said Marsh initially denied involvement in the murders when police questioned him on June 17, the day of his arrest. He did not say how Marsh was identified as a suspect in the case.
But when Pineda played a recording of a phone call between two other people implicating Marsh in the crime — their identities were not revealed — Marsh’s denials came to an end, Pineda said.
He said Marsh told him that on April 13, after years of homicidal urges, “that night he’d had enough.” Marsh said he left his mother’s home on Lillard Drive sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. and, armed with a six-inch buck knife, wandered the streets of Davis “looking for open doors or windows,” Pineda testified.
Marsh said he found what he was looking for at 4006 Cowell Blvd., just two doors down from his father’s residence, Pineda said. He recalled Marsh describing how he sliced open a screen, slipped through an open window, then waited in the living room until he heard the sounds of snoring come from the master bedroom.
Expecting to find just one person asleep, Marsh was surprised to find two, and he watched them while deciding “how he was going to kill them,” Pineda said.
“He felt exhilarated, thinking, ‘This is it,’ ” Pineda testified. He said the teen described an “out-of-body experience, adrenaline flowing.”
It was at that point that Maupin awoke, spotted Marsh and began to scream, Pineda said. He said Marsh began stabbing her in the torso, continuing to do so even as she pleaded for him to stop.
When Northup awoke, Marsh turned his knife on him, “until he was sure the male was deceased,” Pineda said. He also said Marsh described continuing to stab the two victims even after they had died, saying “it just felt right.”
Marsh also said the killings “basically gave him a high for a few days,” according to Pineda, and the teen allegedly admitted to trying to kill again.
“He said the next time … he planned to wander the Davis streets and beat someone to death with a bat,” Pineda said. “But he didn’t find any victims.”
Pineda said investigators later recovered Marsh’s bloodied clothing — including a black pilot’s jacket that Marsh described keeping as a “souvenir” — in the garage of his home.
Marsh’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, did not cross-examine any of the four witnesses or call any of his own. Judge Timothy Fall ordered Marsh back to court Sept. 24 for arraignment.
Marsh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder with enhancements for use of a knife, as well as three special circumstances alleging multiple murders, lying in wait and torture. Marsh, who was 15 at the time of the murders, is being prosecuted as an adult and faces life in prison if convicted.
Prior to Friday’s hearing, Cabral asked for a special circumstance of heinous and depraved murder to be dismissed, saying later it was unconstitutional and had been “charged in error.”
Marsh’s family declined to comment as they left the courtroom.
Said Mary Northup, Oliver Northup’s daughter: “It’s just a tragedy. There’s nothing more to say.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene
Murder defendant Daniel Marsh, 16, of Davis and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson listen to Judge Timothy Fall order Friday morning that Marsh’s preliminary hearing proceed that afternoon. Vicki Ellen Behringer/Courtesy sketch
Daniel William Marsh, 16, his wrists shackled in handcuffs, is accompanied by probation officers to a courtroom holding cell Friday morning in preparation for his preliminary hearing for the April 13 murders of Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76, of Davis. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo
Marsh sketch 3W